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Realistic or Modern The Mulhouser Files: Echoes of Blood

2: Offer Tea - You remember you have a few packets of tea still lying around in one of the mini-kitchen's drawers. Try to get her to calm her nerves before you start talking.
"Would you like some tea?" you ask the young woman, motioning a hand over to the mini-kitchen. "Bit nippy outside, warms you up."

She looks over to the small electric kettle for a moment before giving a slow nod, staying silent otherwise as she then watches you prepare everything. Fortunately, there was a clean cup to use as you put on the kettle with some water and wait for it to heat up. The silence in the room is thick as you listen to the water begin to quickly bubble before coming to a full boil, perfect for the teabag that you allow to rest within the inside of the cup before pouring over it. The floorboards squeak under your feet as you bring the cup over to her, who accepts it with a thankful nod but keeps her gaze fixed on you as you take the seat across from her. "So, how can I help you Miss...?" you ask for both her name and intent.

"Amelia Kleiser." she says, cupping her hands around the warmth of the glass for comfort. "I couldn't find your place after hearing."

"Visibility is a work in progress." you admit, looking out to the window nearby overlooking the alleyway you were housed in. "What's brought you over to me?"

Visible hesitation takes root in Amelia's face as she looks down at the tea, as if struggling to find the words. "Honestly, this is just a last ditch effort. Nobody else would listen to me. Not the cops, not the press, nobody."

"Well I'm all ears." you say, both out of interest as well as genuine need for work. Though you do your best to mask the latter as you keep your tone level-headed and soft.

"...three days ago, I was with my boyfriend Lucas in Wisconsin. We were camping on the weekend, he loved the outdoors. And *something* killed him out there."

The words come dripped with anger and fear, as well as a conviction that is rarely often seen from any one person. Especially when it comes to what is the unexplainable. Your job, after all, is to look into such things in the first place. But just as quickly as she opens up, her words shut down again and become silent. She festers in her own feelings recounting the event, but you need more information. "Like, a wild animal?" you ask, trying to get more out of her.

"No. It wasn't a goddamn bear like the police or the park rangers told me. I know what I saw." Amelia then shoots back, quickly glaring straight towards you. "I'm not *crazy*."

"What did you see, then?" you ask.

"I... I couldn't get a good glimpse. Not after hearing Lucas scream... it was so horrible. I ran for the car, and when I turned the headlights on I saw those red eyes. Awful, evil, red eyes just staring at me from the treeline."

"And where was this?" you then ask, leaning forward.

Amelia takes a moment to recollect herself, wiping away tears from her eyes as she averts here gaze. She doesn't want to seem like she's falling apart in front of you as she clears her throat. "It was... a state forest park... Brule River I think."

[Investigation - Easy] You take mental notes of these details, putting them like sticky notes on a cubicle back at the Tribunal to keep hold of information except onto the wrinkles of your brain. But for now, nothing comes to mind as to any connections. You have certain pieces, but the whole picture remains unclear. More information is needed from all this if you want to piece together what is going on here.

Clues Gained:
"Bear Attack" - The police and wildlife rangers say it was a bear. Amelia *knows* it's not.
Red Eyes - Nothing comes to mind as to what large animal has red eyes. However, it is an unusual detail/trait.
Campsite Location - Brule River State Forest, Northern Wisconsin. Perhaps the scene will hold more clues?
[Investigation - Medium] A thought also comes to your mind to investigate and see if there's been anything like this in the past. The state archives in Milwaukee could perhaps hold certain clues you need. If this isn't an isolated case, then perhaps there's a bigger picture at play than a random one-off attack. Food for thought, as you return your attention back to Amelia as she stares into the tea with weary eyes.

1: Upfront - Ask for what her payment would be. You should be up-front on the cost of travels and so forth...

2: Comfort - Try to make her feel better. Let her know that you'll try to make things right here.

3: Press - Perhaps you haven't gotten everything out of her? There might be an additional detail here she might not be remembering up front, or is withholding from you.
2: Comfort - Try to make her feel better. Let her know that you'll try to make things right here.
Remembering Mark's words, you put aside the idea to ask for payment or to try to get more information out of her and instead focus on Amelia's well-being. Considering she saw a loved one be brutally murdered up front, taking such a stance was likely to draw an enormous amount of ire. And so, instead, you lean forward with reassurance in your voice: "I promise to get to the bottom of this." you say, which gets her to look up in surprise. "Something terrible happened and people are too quick to dismiss it all with a convenient explanation. Everyone deserves to know the truth."

Amelia looks at you for a moment before wiping away more tears from her eyes. "Thank you." she manages to get out after clearing her throat. "...it's nice to know that not everyone thinks I'm hysterical... or delusional..."

"Believe me, I know what that's like." you say in response as a self-deprecating joke, "Who gives up a nice job without any guarantee that they'll be able to make it off some other venture? This idiot, apparently. You should've heard what my mother said when she found out about it." You point at yourself, and you manage to get a small chuckle out of Amelia. She then pulls over her purse and opens it to rummage around before displaying a small envelope. "It's all I can get, really. But I'd pay anything to get Lucas' death some closure." she says before placing it onto the desk in front of you.

You slowly pull the envelope towards you and open it, revealing a good amount of hundred dollar bills on the inside. Counting it all together, you find yourself now in possession of nearly two-thousand dollars. The single-biggest payday you've gotten in the entire time you've started doing this. A sense a relief washes over you where, even with the costs of travelling North among other things, this would get you by for at least the next two months without having to dip into your savings. And you also consider the implications of taking on this case and what it might do for business in the future. It very well could lead to more people lining up at the door!

But that in of itself was speculation based off distant aspirations, and your immediate needs of bills and payments are much more pressing.

1: Thank - This is already a great windfall for you. No need to push anything further and get right on the case!

2: Bargain - You should ask for more, considering the potential risks of coming across what killed Amelia's boyfriend.
1: Thank - This is already a great windfall for you. No need to push anything further and get right on the case!
"Thanks, this is more than enough really." you say to Amelia with reassurance as you close the envelope. "I'll get right on it." You start to look up on your computer to make note of archival materials at Madison, as well as directions to the Public Library there before quickly returning your attention to Amelia as she gets ready to leave. "Oh, just one more thing." you say, catching her attention just as she had turned for the door. "I'll need your number, to keep you posted on what I find. Figure you might want to know what I know as soon as possible."

She nods before taking your only available pen and writing on a scrap piece of paper that was available nearby.
"If I don't pick up, it's because I'll be busy. I have to make arrangements for the funeral... and try to piece my life back together." Amelia then says with restrained grief before making for the door. You hear her footsteps grow softer on her descent until she finally leaves, leaving you to your own devices. You return back to the computer and focus on coordinating a plan of action for this.

Madison's library archives is your first destination, given it's closer to drive to and on the way towards Brule River State Forest. You figure you can not only do more research there but also get some rest in between car trips and also probe the locals to see if they could perhaps have any insight into Lucas' death. Then, looking at available maps online, you trace a route from Madison northwards from I-94 then the state's Highway 53. That particular portion of your journey makes you groan, given how empty the state is in those regions. You would find yourself surrounded by farmlands, forests, and the occasional small town that barely registers on the census.

With your destination set, you gather your things - a camera, your phone, wallet, and keys - and prepare to leave.

[Journalist Background] - You also decide to take your old Tribune credentials with you, picking up the small id badge and stuff it into one of your wallet's pockets. While you don't work there anymore, it could prove in handy to getting what you want so long as nobody looks at its expiry date. You put on a leather jacket to accompany your clothes, given the growing cold and the northwards trajectory of your investigation, and set out onwards.

Tammy's Diner - Madison, Wisconsin

Leaving Chicago is easy in your car, as rush hour had ended following the mid-day rush and allowed you to travel at a reasonable pace outside the city. The urban sprawl gave way to former industries and newer suburbs before revealing the midwestern farmlands in all their vast emptiness. You pass by the city of Rockford on its outskirts as I-90 turns sharply northwards. You tap your fingers on the wheel as you pass by small towns and farms before being welcomed into Wisconsin by a wood carved frame that centres an outline of the state. And about an hour later, you find yourself entering Madison.

The city, compared to the great scale of Chicago, is much smaller in size and as a result holds a different atmosphere; the air feels fresher, and holds a crispness from the northern gusts that are gentler than that of the lakeside currents. As you find and pay for parking, you decide to get a late lunch at a local diner by the name of Tammy's. Once you get your food - fried cheese curds and a rib sandwich along with some water. In this setting, you decide that now's a good time to get a local perspective on whether they've heard of Lucas' death further up north or not.

1: Ask the Waitress - A lovely middle aged woman by the name of Nancy had taken your order, she seems the type to know gossip and news.

2: Ask the Hunters - A trio of woodsman types are enjoying their meal at a nearby table, perhaps they know something.

3: Ask the Police - A police officer is enjoying a meal on his break at the far end of the diner at the countertop. When in doubt, perhaps a law official can point the right way.

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